Coming clean ;)

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Back home after being down the country for awhile with family members. I had been feeling pretty miserable lately, really wound up and nothing at all seemed to relax me. I was constantly on edge, and very easily irritated by everyone. I felt as though I really wanted to get away from everyone for awhile, like I was a coiled spring and a breakdown felt imminent.

I tried to get some space in the first few days and got snatches of time to myself. I sound so selfish saying that, because I am so so lucky to have a family that wants to be around me so much. How lucky am I to have what some people only hope for?

Anyway, after a long walk on my own one day I came back to the house with a blistering headache and I said, ‘To hell with this! I am miserable, cranky and now I have a headache – what is the point in being AF if I feel like crap?’ I had been feeling so rotten for the last month or so and was peeved that my AF zen had somehow deserted me. That evening I had my first glass of wine in 6 months. And it was like some stuck a pin in me, all my pent up irritation left me and my shoulders dropped about two inches. That was the benefit of having the wine. Beyond that there were no other benefits. It didn’t taste nice, really strong, and my food did not taste nice with it. And that’s one thing I thought I was missing out on, the wine complimenting the food. Nope, couldn’t taste the food! Over the next week and a half I had wine on a handful of evenings but I was never really dying for a glass. I never experienced the ‘aaahhh that’s so nice’-feeling on my first glass that I was dreaming about. I felt lethargic, heavy and was never buzzing with excitement. I had a couple of glasses of wine that evening and over the course of a week I had wine with dinner a handful of evenings. But I have to say that I really wasn’t enjoying them a whole lot, yet I still wanted to see if I could enjoy them like I used to. Ha! Maybe its just aswell I didn’t enjoy them that much!

I do feel a lot more relaxed and I’m not sure why that is. Has anyone else experienced a huge relaxation after-effect following alcohol? Why was I so wound up before? I had been doing exercise and trying to get some time on my own but nothing seemed to work in the last couple of months. It makes me think I have some sort of chemical imbalance in me or something.

I have had no urge for wine since I came home last week. And I’m not sure where I am now. I am not feeling the black despair of guilt, for which I am eternally grateful to the Gods. Instead, I feel more at peace with my decision to cut out alcohol. Weirdly, I’m not cross with myself or disappointed, and I feel as though I have learned something. I always felt like I was missing out on life by not drinking but really it does very little to enhance life.

I’m not sure where that leaves me now. Do I go back to counting my days and trying for teetotal again? Do I just have a couple of glasses on if I am on holiday? (I know that sounds incredibly foolish and naïve to many of you). I know for sure that I will not be drinking at home because for me that is a slippery slope. My life now without alcohol at home is immeasurably improved to what it was when I was imbibing regularly.

I don’t have all the answers for myself now, but while I ponder it I wanted to write it all down.

Thanks for reading x

Day 173 – beach days

We are experiencing a heatwave at the moment, which is lovely – sunshine, kids in the pool and blue sky. Of course, with that comes the inevitable lure of a glass of chilled wine… and RELAX (well that’s what it promises anyway).

Last week I came very close to having a drink. My husband and I were arguing, and we were due to go to the beach with family, where there would be wine in the evenings, and I was starting to dread the pressure of having a drink. I told myself that it would be easier to fit in, raise no eyebrows and have a glass. I also yearned for the instant escape of having a drink, a way out of marital hiccups. Sometimes the battle gets too hard, you know? And you just want to press pause.

One thing that stopped me was the feeling of guilt that I knew I would experience the following day, and the AWFUL brain chatter which would follow, constantly debating what this new development (downfall) wold mean. I figured the hangover part wouldn’t be too bad because I would probably be sozzled after two drinks lol! Also, no one raised an eyebrow at my abstinence (I said I had a dodgy tummy) which I really appreciated.

Anyway, I didn’t come here to blow my own trumpet, because the urges are ever present at the moment, and I have no way of knowing if I will fall or not. For the next two weeks we are holidaying with family members on both sides and there will be a lot of beaches, difficult family members, celebrations and stressful situations, so the lure of ‘taking part’ while simultaneously escaping, will be strong.

Hope everyone is doing well and the sun is shining where you are xx

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Day 152 – daily struggles

I have been trying to find the time to write lately but things have been so busy. Or have they really? Have we just fallen back into our ‘busyness’ again because restrictions are lifting, and racing from one errand to another, to drop-offs and pick-ups, is once again our default setting. Of course, if I had really set my mind to it, I could easily have found the time some evening to sit down and write this blog.

I have been struggling lately, with my anxiety, with having to give up alcohol, with my lack of motivation. Some days I am overwhelmed with the thought that I am always going to struggle with my metal health, that I am always going to be anxious about something or there will be days when I will be inexplicably down about something. The thought is exhausting.

I do find exercise good, it reduces the brain chatter. I also found that coffee (I only starting drinking this again recently as a treat for being AF) was giving me terrible ‘morning-after’ anxiety and have given that up too. I had some recent family occasion that were a little stressful and because of the coffee I found that my self talk was crippling the next day, replaying everything, berating myself, cringing – just awful! It occurred to me that coffee might have something to do with it so I didn’t have it one day and the following day I felt much better. My brain wasn’t racing the minute I woke up with instant replay of the previous day’s encounter.

It’s so hard to give up alcohol up. I miss the escape. I got upset one evening just explaining it to my husband, how it’s so hard. Yes, its worth it but it’s still hard. Sometimes, I want things not to be hard.

I had a gynie visit today (all males can skip this paragraph) and its just so depressing how women’s bodies change and age. Our bodies create life, carry and birth babies ( sadly I know this does not apply to all women), and then when we reach a certain age, our bodies just seem to start malfunctioning and we slide into middle age. I tried skipping the other day with my daughter’s skipping rope… yep, those pelvic floor muscles are not what they used to be. I am a few years post-hysterectomy and I came home from my gynie appointment armed with a prescription for vaginal oestrogen cream – nothing screams middle age quite like vaginal cream. Don’t get me wrong, I think my body is amazing to have produced and given me two perfect babies, and for this I will forever be grateful. I think it’s hard because in my head I feel like I am still in my 30’s but my body is telling me otherwise. It can be a little sobering. Not a spring chicken anymore.

xxxx

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Day 136 – Rear-view anxiety looking glass

I never thought I’d say this but I miss lookdown. A recent family occasion, with extended family (mostly outside), and my anxiety, over things I said and did, is crippling me today.

To clarify, I didn’t say or do anything to significant but today I am over-analysing every single conversation in my head, and watching everything in critical playback. I am imagining what each person was thinking when I was saying or doing something, and of course its not flattering. At least I didn’t have any alcohol so I don’t have that hangover too.

There are a couple of strained relationships in the mix so I was on tender hooks anyway and today I want to crawl into a cave and never do another family event again. Alcohol was handy for occasions, like that, I would have a few glasses of wine and smile beatifically at everyone, relaxed and in the zone. Now, I feel more like my awkward teenager self, not friendly, confident or bold enough to hold court during any conversation.

Having a glass of vino would also help me smile at that family member who generally annoys the hell out of me, and I would be able to get through the occasion without starting an international incident. I am not great at being ‘false-friendly’ to someone who riles me up, and now I feel all family occasions are going to entail me visibly gritting my teeth while trying to smile at them. Not sure I will be able to convince anyone. All anxiety and no alcohol, is definitely going to make this ‘Jane’ a very dull girl this summer.

xxxx

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Day 121 – Mingling

I haven’t posted in awhile, because as the country opens up again, I have been busier. The kids have sports training on Friday evenings so I don’t have time to sit at home lamenting AF weekends anymore, thankfully.

This previous weekend, I had to deal with two social gatherings though, and I found it a bit of a struggle. To be honest, I was driving to one of them, so I wouldn’t have drank anyway, but the gaiety of other people there seemed to grate on my nerves for some reason. Anyway, I got the kids home, showered them and I realised that if I wasn’t off alcohol, having a glass of wine when I got home would have been my first priority. I would have probably been short or ill-tempered with my kids. I got upset later, when saying this to my husband. I was explaining that it was difficult to be off alcohol but worth it to last the day without blowing up at the kids.

The other gathering was at my own house and luckily not many were having a drink, so it wasn’t commented on when I didn’t either. I felt I was a little agitated though until everyone went home, I was happy to get the kids showered and into bed in good form. Before this, I would not have wanted the evening to end, now I can’t wait to get rid of my visitors lol!

My husband says he has noticed that I am much calmer and less frustrated with the kids, and as a result the kids are calmer too. That really is all the motivation I need. It hits me hard too though that my behaviour in the past would have made their little world uncomfortable or unhappy at times.

For myself, I’ve really only noticed it recently that now I can control my frustrations for longer. When I look at my kids, I take a breath and actually see them and take in what they are saying, feeling or grumbling about. Parenting is such hard work and I feel as though alcohol gave me a handicap, before I even started my day.

Of course, neither is it the magic pill to make parenthood easy, it’s still bloody challenging, as all the parents out there will agree. But at least, without alcohol, I am giving myself a fighting chance.

I hope post-Covid-life is treating everyone well xx

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100 days alcohol-free

I am happy to report that I’ve made it to my goal of 100 days, and going back alcohol isn’t something I am considering for now.

Of course, I do feel that I haven’t really been tested due to Covid restrictions. There has been little or no socialising, and I haven’t been under a huge amount of pressure from outside forces to have a drink. It’s as though I am waiting in the wings, to go on a god-awful bungee jump, and I am suddenly in no rush to join the ‘real’ world.

I will though of course and I have a few excuses up my sleeve to ease myself into company, without any big revelations on my part.

Things have been a bit challenging for me recently, and the constant rain isn’t helping. Do you ever look at your life and think ‘is this all there is for me?’. Of course, I am disgusted with myself as soon as I think it, because I have a great life. Two healthy kids, a lovely home and a man that I love and who adores me back. What more could I want? What is wrong with me? It must definitely be the weather, when the sun is shining, I can be out in the garden and everything seems brighter.

I have decided to up my game, in terms of my craft and push myself to go in the direction I have been wishing for. I am giving myself a kick in the ass, because if I want more for me, then I have go get it, its not going to just materialise because I wish it. Instead of me telling myself ‘its grand, its suits me because of the kids’, its time for me to reach for more and do the work. Here’s hoping I don’t run out of steam.

Something else that has happened recently, is that my son’s teacher approached me and suggested we get him assessed for inclusion into a program here for gifted children. We knew he was very smart, but didn’t think too much about it and so what she said was a shock. Of course we will get him assessed. It is a great opportunity for him and I am grateful that she took the time to suggest it. I am also a little daunted, and somewhat worried for him. I just want him to be a happy normal kid and want to keep him in a bubble with me as long as I can. He is a bright and sociable kid with lots of friends, and he loves running, jumping and climbing. He can also be very challenging to parent, constantly questioning us, disobeying us and being cheeky. Like most kids, I guess. I usually end of raising my voice, because speaking normally didn’t work , and then I feel terribly guilty after it. This was where wine usually came into the scenario. Of course I am better equipped to deal with it all now without the alcohol, well in theory anyway, it doesn’t feel like it some days. Sorry for moaning – this is not the triumphant, ecstatic post that I had in mind when I set 100 days as a goal!

Here’s to the next 100 days. Thanks for reading xx

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Day 83 – work life balance

The last couple of days have been a bit of a struggle. Its hard to pinpoint exactly why. I have gotten some unscheduled work in and the deadline is asap, so the stress levels have naturally risen. Of course, then I wished for wine, which didn’t help the brain chatter. Also my husband was working Saturday which means I haven’t had much time for myself, and no opportunity to unwind, go for a walk or take a breath. Throw in a little niggling family politics and it has all boiled down to me being a little stressed and frustrated.

This time a good nights sleep or a heart to heart with my husband didn’t help. Having a deadline usually means me working on Sunday while my husband minds the kids. Sometimes this can make me feel guilty as my daughter would like us to do things as a family, but usually I try to explain it to her and she’s getting used to it. However, last night I was upset at the thought of having to go on my laptop today when the weather is so gorgeous, and plus there are a couple of family members around that I really wanted to see. I had a busy day with the kids and my head was full of stress and come evening time, I was GASPING for a drink. I tried to distract myself with AF wine, and it worked to a point, in so far as I didn’t actually give in and have alcohol. I was like a bear but tried to keep it to myself. It’s no one else fault really so I just white-knuckled through the evening.

I made the decision to take today off, enjoy the company and also take some time for myself. I’m not sure if it really helped the stress levels, because I woke this morning still stressed, probably because I knew that I was putting work on the long finger. If I had decided to work all day, I would have missed out on company and chats but would have gotten a lot of work done – who knows which served me better? Anyhow, I stuck to my decision and got to hang out with some family members and pushed myself to go for a walk and do some exercise. After the exercise, I felt less inclined to howl at the moon, though I know I am still not entirely relaxed this evening.

Its more than likely work that’s on my mind, and the sooner I get it done the better. These particular projects were unexpected, so I am going to try and be firm and say to my boss that I will get to them when I can. As a freelancer, I usually grab all the work I can get becuase work is not always guaranteed.I find it quite difficult to juggle work and home life. When you work from home, you basically still have to do all the household jobs and parenting as before, but now you have to also work professionally and competently, to boot. Often, my selfcare attempts will fall by the wayside, in order to bake for lunchboxes or finish a work project to meet a deadline.

Sorry for all the moaning, I am trying to make sense of it all by putting it down here. Thanks for reading x

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Day 74 – Friday wind down

Friday evening and I am self-soothing with tea, chocolate and the movie Hitch. Numbing and oblivion would be preferable, considering we had a minor playground accident, a home diy haircut for my son and a very uncomfortable bra that was driving me nuts by the end of the evening. The bra is now in the bin.

One thing I wonder is when I will stop replacing alcohol with Heineken zero, crisps, AF bubbly and chocolate. Any chances of weightloss are impossible and I worry that I am filling my body with rubbish, even though I know that its less harmful than alcohol. I am hoping that I am not creating another bad habit that I will have to try to break in a few months.

Otherwise, I am generally fine, my mood is pretty good. My default mood is a positive one now, instead of being stressed, angry and low. Of course anxious thoughts are there too, but less of the black mood. It seems strange to admit this, but its as though my goodwill feelings for my husband have resurfaced again too. I am less angry towards him and having a laugh with him again. We definitely still have disagreements, but I find that I am less a tower of raging inferno and I am being kinder towards him. Its nice. Hopefully it continues on the same vein.

Baby steps to 100 days xx

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Day 68 – weekend cravings

Really craving red wine this weekend :(. It was always my thing to do in the evening, glass of wine, relax, repeat. Yesterday evening, I was really restless, and I couldn’t go for a walk because it was raining. Eventually, I grabbed a bottle of heineken zero and tried to distract myself with a tv series. Then generally I try to sneak off to bed early with a book where I can finally relax.

This evening was no better, I cooked a carbonara, had a couple of AF beers and I felt flat. The kiddies were in good form and we had a good day, so there was no reason for me feeling ‘meh’. My husband opened a bottle of red and I pulled out my laptop in the living room to distract myself with some work. It would be very easy to have a glass, just by reaching over to him and taking a sip out of his glass, and then I would be saying ‘maybe I’ll join you for one’. And that would be that. There’s no denying the initial buzz would be glorious, but that would be followed by sadness, fear, anxiety, feelings of failure and self-loathing. I had already done yoga and a walk earlier in the day.

The tv was on in the background with a programme about the reopening of the The Savoy in London, glasses of champagne were being poured by dapper looking waiters. Enough was enough. I rang my husband in the next room and jokingly asked him to bring me in a glass of AF bubbly in the manner of a Savoy waiter, and he did – bubbly in a champagne with a pillowcase ( aka a napkin), folded neatly over his forearm. LOL 🙂

With a glass of AF bubbly and writing here, the craving is lessening. As soon as the kids are in bed, I am also planning on having a bowl of ice -cream.

Hope everyone’s Friday evening is going well xx

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Day 64 – new understandings

We had a nice Easter, the kids had a ball of course, which is the main thing. I had a good bit of work today, so I forced myself to sit down at my laptop every night to get it finished, so I could then relax and enjoy Easter Sunday and Monday.

We had a couple of people from our bubble over for food and that was enjoyable. I was a little jittery because I would usually be polishing off a few glasses but instead I topped myself up with AF and our visitors were none the wiser. I put on makeup that day for the first time since Christmas probably and I noticed how white, the whites of my eyes were – there were no longer bloodshot from alcohol. I was pleased with the thought of this.

Monday was lovely too. I suggested to my husband a couple of things we could do with the kids just to break the monotony, and we all enjoyed it. I went to bed happy in the knowledge that the kids enjoyed their weekend.

I’ve started reading ‘Co-dependent no more’, oh my god what a revelation. A little background, neither of my parents were big drinkers, but my Mom’s Dad was an alcoholic, and in what I have read so far, I can see a lot of Mom in it, and her behaviours. And consequently, I can see my siblings and myself in the book also. Our home was was a very repressed environment, no emotions or love shown and everything was vert strict and controlled. My mother is a very cold, manipulative and cruel person, always believing herself to be the victim and over the past few years she had stopped speaking to some of my siblings for varying reasons. In a way, I feel guilty speaking of her like this and I don’t like to point the figure at women/mothers because I feel we are often blame unnecessarily, but it has helped me understand myself a little better. I know that she is a product of a harsh upbringing in a home with alcohol abuse, and its sad that the affect has endured in her, throughout her life. I remember walking on eggshells at home, because if you upset her you could get the silent treatment for days on end. When she was annoyed, she would look at you in the worst way possible and her voice could cut glass. I think I have internalised that a bit because now I get anxious if my husband seems in a mood or if I feel someone is off with me. I am wondering, what did I do? How can I fix it? Are they cross with me? Normally, I would anxiously question my husband about what was bothering him – and if he hadn’t been in a bad mood to begin with, you can be sure that was by the end of conversation. It would usually end up with him walking out of the room, and I would be left feeling worse than before.

Just having read the first few chapters, I feel less defective, as I understand where a lot of my coping mechanisms have come from. I feel kinder towards myself, isn’t that strange (and great)? Above all, I want the buck to stop with me, I don’t want to pass the same onto my kids. Of course, I know its impossible not to pass things onto our kids, we would have to be clean slates with no past in order to do that, but I wish to minimise the damage. I want to give them the best chance at a happy life, without them having to deal with the ghosts of my childhood.

Hope everyone had a nice Easter xxx

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